The traditional degree, with its four-year time commitment and steep price tag, made sense when the university centrally aggregated top academic minds with residency-based students. Education required extensive logistics, demanding deep commitment from students worthy of being rewarded with the all-or-nothing degree.
But education isn’t all-or-nothing. College and its primary credential, the degree, needn’t be either. The benefit of modern, online education is that the burden of logistics and infrastructure are greatly reduced, allowing for the potential of a fluid, lifelong education model. The problem, to date, is that formal, online education is still being packaged in all-or-nothing degree programs, falsely constraining education innovation. The New Republic writes, “Online for-profit colleges haven’t disrupted the industry because while their business methods are different, their product—traditional credentials in the form of a degree—is not.”
Technology creates efficiencies by decreasing unit size while increasing utility. To falsely constrain anything to historically larger canons is to render technology impotent to do what it does best.
Interesting argument in favor of completely reinventing the higher education accredidation-diploma model.
I agree that making education more modular may increase overall effeciency of the system, but I think Mr. Blake underestimates both the benefits of the self-selecting nature of the often difficult-to-withstand 4-year committment (even if somewhat arbitrarily designed), and the secondary social effect the process creates. To me, a huge part of the value of a degree is related to the successful navigation of a complicated system, as much as Mr. Blake might be saddened to hear it.
Measuring the effectiveness of education using an industrial model is a bit troubling, also. Doesn’t measuring efficiency miss the point of our education system?